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The End of Absolute Immunity for Prosecutors

Another outstanding feature by The Marshall Project. It’s written by a senior federal trial judge in New York. For 23 years, he’s sentenced the likes of murderers, rapists, gangsters, and fraudsters—some to prison for the rest of their lives. But he says it’s time to put an end to absolute immunity for prosecutors. Absolute immunity is what Read More

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A Tale of Two Rules for California Prosecutors

In the first days of fall, the Golden State has set forth two new, important rules to punish prosecutors who unreasonably, recklessly, or intentionally withhold evidence from the accused. One is a criminal statute that goes into effect next year. The other is an ethics rule that goes into effect if and when the state’s supreme court Read More

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Sex Crimes

If you thought the case from last week was bad, here’s another one that’s worse. This time, the supposed victim hasn’t stepped forward to admit she lied, so the man she accused of child molestation sits in prison, as he has for seventeen years, and the system seems powerless to stop it. What happened? The jury never saw medical records Read More

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A Postscript to Last Week’s Open Letter

Following up on last week’s post, readers should understand the timeline of events that brought the misconduct to light. Here are the highlights. In January 2013, a defendant in a murder case filed a motion to get some important information from the prosecution. The trial court found good cause for the motion and granted it, but the district attorney’s office Read More

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An Open Letter to the District Attorney of Orange County

Mr. Rackauckas: Just what is going on in your office, sir? I’m not talking about the fight that broke out in a county courthouse three weeks ago between one of your investigators and a defense attorney. Never mind that if a defense attorney did this to a cop, he’d be arrested so fast his head would spin. (Full Read More

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

I recently watched the documentary, Making A Murderer, and if you haven’t yet, you should. No, it’s not an indictment of all law enforcement. It’s an object lesson in why we should be deeply skeptical of power and the people who lord it over our lives. And how easy it can be for them to get you, too, especially once they’ve Read More

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A House of Cards

That’s how the U.S. Supreme Court described the evidence in a murder case that it reversed last week because the prosecution had wrongly concealed other important evidence from the defense and jury. Factor in that other evidence, the Court held, and the house begins to crumble. How so? There was no physical evidence tying the defendant to the murder, only the Read More

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New California Criminal Laws in 2016

Happy New Year! And with it, here are five important criminal laws that went into effect. Courts must report prosecutors for bad-faith Brady violations. This is Assembly Bill 1328. It amends the Penal Code to provide that a court must report a prosecutor to the State Bar who it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, has deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence in Read More

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But You Promised!

File this one under, #CallYourLawyerFirst. Two weeks ago, a federal court of appeals reversed a man’s conviction for mortgage fraud and ordered the case dismissed because the government had broken its promise not to prosecute him in exchange for his cooperation. The case presents a strange but interesting set of facts. From 2006 to 2007, the man worked for a real-estate firm that came Read More

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California Supreme Court Revisits the Law of Access to Police Personnel Files

Police officers are human beings who are capable of making mistakes or behaving badly, just like anyone else, and if they testify in a criminal case, their credibility is always at issue, just like any other witness. So what do you do if you believe that an officer previously lied, behaved violently, used excessive force, or otherwise acted in ways that Read More

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